Alejandro Pozuelo: the one that got away

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Pozuelo scoring against Athletic Bilbao in a 5-3 away victory.

So it is official, Alejandro Pozuelo is a Swansea City player; joining former Real Betis teammate, Jose Cañas, in the process. In my view, Pozuelo has the talent to become established as a full Spanish international in a few years time, once he has played regularly at the top level. For those that are unfamiliar with Pozuelo, he is an attacking midfielder with a great touch and quick brain who sits off the front man.

As for Betis, he is the one that got away.

Let’s talk stellar evolution. From a bit of dust and gas we get a nice nebulae, also known as molecular clouds (talent and potential). After millions of years (training and luck) these protostars may settle down and form a main sequence star (professional footballer). Pozuelo is at this stage. He has however got lots of hydrogen atoms wanting to fuse together but only if he puts the effort in. This will eventually lead to the creation of a helium core, thus powering the star (Pozuelo) on to the next level: subgiant. Once he is here he can then naturally progress onto the red giant phase (career pinnacle), before he fizzles out and collapses into a white dwarf.

Now, at Betis he has not been given the chance to move onto that next level. This hasn’t been Betis’ fault per se, he has had injuries and ineffective spells and in short it just hasn’t really happened. At the start of the season he was my ‘one to watch’ – this was a pre-season article I did last summer for Inside Spanish Football highlighting his talent. I thought he could stamp his mark on the season just gone but he never had a sustained run in the first team, which was due to inconsistent performances and injury. A move to Swansea may provide that extra kick he needs, especially with Michael Laudrup at the helm.

He was contracted to Betis until 2015 but was threatening the club with legal action because he felt this contract was ‘forced’ upon him. Rubbish in my view as other players have received the same contract and are absolutely fine. Swansea will need to keep tabs on this diva-ishness.

Despite this unsavouriness, at around €500,000, Swansea have got an absolute steal. It was not long ago that Pozuelo was being linked to Manchester United and ratings such as £4.5 million were being banded around (by The Sun).

Although we have lost a possible star, it will be exciting to see him ply his trade in the Premier League next season and see whether he can fulfil that potential that he undoubtedly has. I say buena suerte to this young Sevillista.

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United linked with Pozuelo (image from The Sun)

Beñat returns home

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Beñat and Cañas, both have left Betis this summer (photo from Al final de la Palmera)

The moment has finally arrived; Betis are Beñat-less. The little, bearded, Basque string-puller has returned to his spiritual home, Athletic Bilbao – the club who released him 4 years ago, deeming him not good enough. It has been on the cards for quite some time so it has come as no surprise to anyone who follows Spanish football.

Betis maybe could have recouped around €20 million last summer for Beñat, but have finally settled for something in the region of €8-10 million. Good business for Athletic? Yes, very much so. He is still only 26 and is on the fringes on an exceptional national team. However, I also think it is fairly good business from Betis. If we wouldn’t have kept hold of him for one more season then who is to say we would have made it into the Europa League?

It is true that season 2012-2013 was not as effectual as the season before, although he still scored 4 goals and assisted with 8, but Beñat has played his part majorly and now he has moved on to pastures new.

Beñat has a lot to be thankful to Betis for, but so do Betis to him. He made his debut for los verdiblancos at the start of the 2010/2011 season, helping them to regain promotion to the pinacle league of Spanish football. He has gained a reputation as the engine room of the team, with the ability to dictate player and with the visionary capabilities to split defences in two with a wave of his wand-like right boot. A proper footballer, which was recognised immediately by Pepe Mel, who transformed him into a integral player.

There have been lots of great moments. For me the greatest was Beñat’s dismantling of Sevilla in their backyard. Sevilla took the lead after six minutes through Alvaro Negredo. Beñat dragged Betis back into the contest in the 43rd minute thanks to a brilliantly struck freekick crashing in off the post. Up stepped Beñat again in the 93rd minute to nonchalantly slide a freekick under the wall and again crash in off the post. Here’s my match report at the time for Inside Spanish Football.

However, it does seems about the right time for Beñat to leave, especially after his inseparable amigo, Cañas, made tracks to Swansea a couple of weeks ago. Béticos will be forever grateful to Beñat and I’m sure he will get a terrific reception upon return to el estadio Benito Villamarín.